I never wanted to be a wife.
One, my parents are divorced and while they would both go on to have successful relationships with other people, my first example of marital commitment was that it didn’t last.
Two, I was always afraid that if I became a wife, I would be nothing else. That my husband’s “ownership” of me would wipe away my personality and ultimately crush my spirit.
My father lived in L.A., worked as a comedy manager and was connected to some very cool people. He took me to Spago for my 15th birthday. I went to the taping of Joe Piscapo’s HBO special. Don’t laugh, that was a hot ticket in 1984!
But summers end as they always do and one minute I was eating falafel and going to museums and the next minute I was sobbing at LAX. It was devastating leaving my father. Of course, I loved my mother, step-father and brother but I was going back with a hole in my heart.
I never talked to anyone about it because I knew they wouldn’t understand. As a child, how do you say, “Yeah, I get to do all these cool things with my Dad but I’m also very sad because it always ends”?
I decided that a husband and children are temporary things and it’s better to be on your own.
When I met my boyfriend (now fiancee), I had a wonderful job working on a comedy show. When that ended, I hustled myself a job at MTV. It was an exciting experience in the beginning but would ultimately leave me feeling empty inside.
I went through either a breakdown or a breakthrough, I still haven’t figured out which. I starting shaking like a Chihuahua, sobbing uncontrollably and broke out into a rash that no doctor could explain.
“Do you have any reason to believe that you’ve been exposed to the HIV virus?” and “Have you eaten any animal waste?” were the questions I got asked. I ended up getting myself a tube of Cortizone cream and the rash was gone in two days. Stupid doctors.
All this trauma lead to me quitting my “sexy job” (my father’s words, not mine) to pursue acting, my first love and what I had studied in college. Gone was the chic corner office in Times Square and in was the waitressing gig on the Upper West Side.
Around this time, I moved in with my boyfriend. He was always incredibly supportive of my creative pursuits and was a big reason why I took the leap in the first place. His confidence in me made the transition from one side of the camera to another, an easy and natural one. He told me not to worry about my dramatic decrease in income and that he would help me out if I ever needed it.
It felt strange at times, having him pay for so much. I’d ask my girlfriends about it and they told me to relax.
“He’s doing well, he loves you and if you were in his position, you’d do the same thing. Don’t overthink it.”
As his success grew, so did our lives. It brought us to L.A., the place where I had experienced so much freedom and growth. I had a job for a year-and-a-half before I was laid off. Pretty soon after that I stopped working all together.
At first, I wanted to go back to work immediately. Being home all day with nothing to do was unsettling. I felt immense pangs of guilt. Well, that feeling didn’t last long. To quote Drake in the Kendrick Lamar song, Poetic Justice: “You were so new to this life but goddamn you got adjusted.”
I stayed up later. I slept in. Like 12pm, in. I shopped online so much that I knew the UPS guy by name. (Hi, Sal!) Now mind you, I also took acting classes, auditioned, did a couple TV things, a play and wrote and directed a web series. I was very creative.
But day by day, I struggled as my passion and zest for life was being replaced by hair appointment and facials. It had become so easy, this new life of mine. Why do anything when I could get away with doing nothing? In retrospect, I realize that I was in a deep depression.
I had lost my way, allowed myself to become bored and thus, boring. My boyfriend worked out of town a lot, so I filled my nights with as much socializing as I could so that I wouldn’t feel lonely in my house. Visits from Sal kept me well dressed and my ability to take a 11:30 am spin class kept things reasonably tight.
I made it look like fun but inside I still felt like that little girl crying alone on the airplane, clutching her father’s handkerchief. Everyone around me saw decadence but only I could see the drawbacks. A summer of fun meant ten months without my dad. A beautiful home and pretty dresses meant a partner who works all the time.
I’d go to parties and see girls with their boyfriends on their arms. Where was mine? Working, always working. It was the quicksand that was slowly devouring me and I hated it. I was becoming the thing I dreaded the most — a woman completely dependent on a man.
The unspoken agreement of between the breadwinner and the bread eater is that unemployed one will make sure the day to day household chores are taken care of. If you’re home all day as an adult, there’s really no reason your place should be a mess (Maybe it’s different when you have kids. I just have a dog). Dishes shouldn’t be overflowing and the trash should be taken out. I’m no slob but keeping a clean house isn’t exactly my top priorty.
My boyfriend took umbrage with the fact that after a long stretch out of town, he came home to a house that was in less than great shape.
“You couldn’t clean the kitchen?”
Comments like this would infuriate me. “HOW DARE YOU!” I would screech. “I’m a goddamn FEMINIST! I’m not here to cook your dinners and be the housemaid! If you wanted Susie Homemaker, you got the wrong MOTHERFUCKIN’ girl!”
But when there’s an empty bottle of pinot grio on the coffee table and you’re in your pajamas and it’s three in the afternoon, you don’t really have a leg to stand on. Getting a manicure and buying shoes doesn’t constitute a productive day. Going on a hike and drinking an overpriced green juice doesn’t make you healthy. These were all distractions and my life was full of them.
As ambitious as I am, I am very lazy. I am also scared of failure. And success, for that matter. It was easier to play the role of spoiled housewife than to get my ass up everyday and possibly fail. But I can’t do it anymore. It’s not me. It may take me a few years but I want to be equal financially contributing member of my household. I have to. Not being one for the past few years has made me feel shitty and has created an imbalance in my relationship.
“Once, you start making your own money again,” my fiancée says, “you can tell me to go fuck myself.” I tell him that anyway, but I know what he means. The ability to say “Go fuck yourself” to your partner if things go bad and not have to worry about how you’re going to take care of yourself is freedom. Which is all I have ever wanted.
So here I am! Writing, working on my website and starting my podcast, “Nia, Please!” in the next few months. It’ll be an advice podcast, if you can believe that. I’m trying to get some kind of career going, whatever it turns out to be. Being a lady of leisure is super fun, I won’t lie. But being a real, working, contributing, equal partner feels even better.
I still see Sal on a pretty regular basis though.
What do you guys think? Am I being whiny and self-pitying? Have you experienced something similar? And if you say, “OMG, first world problems!” I’m gonna scream. I live in the first world and I have problems, ok?